Friday, February 22, 2013

Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn Is Twisted

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Every year without fail, Nick and Amy Dunne celebrate their wedding anniversary with an interesting romantic twist. Presents are wrapped. Reservations are made. And Amy, clever as she can be, creates a scavenger hunt that gives a nod to each and every highlight they experienced during the last twelve months — a trail of poems and places where the couple can remember each special rendezvous.

It's sweet and somewhat corny, but the couple mostly enjoy it. They might even enjoy it more if Amy didn't make the clues so obscure. There were plenty of times in their past that Nick couldn't guess what might have been deemed important that year, putting their entire evening in jeopardy, the game spoiled.

This year, however, would be different. Nick wouldn't be the one to spoil the game because on the warm summer morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, he received a curious phone call from his neighbor. The front door of his house is open and the always indoor cat is wandering around outside.

Amy Dunne has disappeared on the morning of their anniversary. 

None of it really sinks in until Nick surveys the mess in the front room where the struggle had ensued. And then he does what any panicked husband might do. He immediately calls the area police, reporting the unthinkable — his wife might have been abducted. Correction. His famous wife has been abducted.

Amy is famous because her parents, two child psychologists, wrote an entire educational and semi-fictionalized series based on their only daughter's experiences. Then, in attempting to provide young women moral and ethical guidance, contrasted any number of distinctions between Amy's perfect choices and the less-than perfect choices of her peers.

Suffice to say, the insistent curiosity to transform a missing woman's case into entertainment is immediately heightened. And, much like any mysteries covered by the media, the husband survives only a day or two before being cast as an equally likely or perhaps primary suspect. In Nick's case, this holds especially true as he is caught either shell-shocked or smiling at the worst possible times.

The profile of a sociopath is picked carefully clean. 

As their two stories unfold, Nick in the present and facing increased scrutiny, and Amy's a few month's prior via her secret diary, a different kind of story starts to emerge — a troubling tale about how two New York writers landed in North Carthage, Missouri, after the magazine market started to implode and Amy's parents had to raid their daughter's trust fund after riding their book series too hard for too long.

While the couple might have weathered another a year in New York, they are disappointed to discover that the home Amy's parents presented them with was never purchased. It was another mortgage they could no longer pay. This reason, in addition to the condition of Nick's ailing parents, convinced him to head back home to Missouri, with Amy somewhat grudgingly along for the ride.

Three things become especially apparent as author Gillian Flynn peels back each increasingly tense layer. The Dunnes didn't really have the storybook relationship that most people thought they had. The only person left that Nick can really count on is his twin sister Margo. And the profile of a sociopath can be difficult to spot when they have the wherewithal to bury their dark hearts under a mask of desirability.

A couple graphs about author Gillian Flynn.

Gillian Flynn
Born to two community college professors in Kansas City, Missouri, Gillian Flynn was exposed to her parents' favorite subjects early — literature and film. Later, she would transition her early start into an English and journalism degree from the University of Kansas. It was at Northwestern University, where she earned her master's degree, that she decided against hard journalism.

Instead, she headed to New York City and landed a job with Entertainment Weekly as a critic. But despite her flair for film and television reviews, there was always something else lurking behind the scenes. Flynn was working on the novel Sharp Objects. Gone Girl is her third outlandish success.

Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn Twists At 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Most people who have piled on the decision to hate Girl Gone do it for the ending. It borders on inexplicable and comes across as nearly impossible. There are plenty of trappings tucked inside this psychological thriller but they don't make this story any less creepy or entertaining.

Capitalizing on the cultural fascination with missing persons crime scenes (enough to transform them into the closest thing to a television series), Flynn weaves a mesmerizing tale that makes two characters completely believable and unbelievable in the choices they make to sabotage what would have otherwise been a win-win marriage. That makes it work. Just know you might not like the ending.

Gone Girl: A Novel is available from Amazon or you can download it to iBooks. Barnes & Noble also carries the third novel by Gillian Flynn. You can find the audiobook on iTunes. It's delightfully and darkly done with two narrators, Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne. Their voices will keep you up at night.
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